This is a weekly series written by Emma Dellopoulos, chronicling her work with an interactive workshop between Elizabeth Tate Alternative High School in Iowa City and Hammond High School in Hammond, Indiana.
It started how most things in my life have started, from a wrestling match with my anxiety.
This past December, I was stuck in the usual horror-scape of final exams, wondering what on earth I was going to do for my final project for a creative writing class I’d taken that semester. The class was a hybrid creative-writing-and-technology-course in which we were supposed to be navigating “new media”. My professor said that I could simply revise something that I’d written already in the class, but I don’t tend to settle for cop-out projects. This is one of my major sources of self-inflicted panic.
A good friend and IYWP laureate Audrey Smith is one of many confidants that I’ve looked to for solace in similar times. I asked her:
“Hey. I realize I ask you this every single semester, but what the heck should I do for my final project for New Media?”
Generally, I get a similar answer from anyone to whom I pose this question. It’s something to the effect of:
“Gee, I don’t know. That’s a head scratcher.”
I wasn’t really expecting a legitimate answer, to be entirely honest. Those kinds of questions are in the rhetorical and general venting categories, along the same lines of “How am I going to break up with Joe?” and “Why is my teacher making me read The Canterbury Tales?” Questions like this are just emotional dumping grounds, and the question mark is a feeble hand at the end half-heartedly asking for advice, not really expecting the beg to be fulfilled.
Audrey did fulfill it though, and provided the perfect idea. She’d hatched in her mind the idea of a collaboration with the school she works at and the IYWP. Her plan was to propose to her school the idea of an online-based workshop in which kids from Hammond High (her school) and Tate High School (the alternative high school here) would create a body of work together while learning how to use tech in a creative way.
“This is perfect!” I thought to myself. “I can use a curriculum for this program as a final project for my class!”
And that’s how it all started. Eventually it morphed into me not only writing the curriculum, but executing it, too. The writing of the curriculum was just the final project for New Media. Executing it became my senior Capstone project through the Magid Center at the University of Iowa, where I’ll be graduating from this May. Through the entire process, I’ll be blogging about it to share my thoughts, lesson plans, gripes, hopes, fears, etc. etc.
We got started with the program last week. We did our introductions, and the kids seem to be excited at both Tate and Hammond. Some less so, but it is high school, after all.
The main theme this past week has been blogging. We’re asking questions like: How is blogging different from print media? What are the advantages, and the disadvantages?
Now that the introduction period is over, I’m beginning to think this is going to be a lot of fun, but also a whole lot of work. Come laugh with me, cry with me, learn with me. Or you can just read my weird rants about teaching high school kids about art AND technology. I think I’m really in for it, you guys.
Next week, the theme is micro fiction.